Cleaning Bookshelves on Independence Day

A friend came today to help with the dust mite problems which are causing my eyes to swell shut and my whole epidermis to become one Giant Itch. One remedy suggested that for those of us with mite allergies a ‘must for the dust’ is the removal of all books out of bedrooms. A remedy worse than death and once which will never, ever happen at Schloss Bodissey. We have two floor-to-ceiling bookcases, one on either side of the room. Taking all those books away, even if our house were big enough to allow for their placement elsewhere, would be like removing the heart and soul from that cozy space. No way.

So instead of a biblioectomy, we made up a batch of DIY miticide and began the long process of removing the books tome-by-tome, shelf-by-shelf, cleaning each and every one. Then we cleaned the shelves and their backs, spraying into the corners. One of us hit on the bright idea of using a hair dryer to help speed the drying process on the flat surfaces where the books would be returned…

In the course of several hours, we managed to do one half of one bookshelf – the one on my side, of course – sorting out which books need to find new homes (“New Homes for Old Tomes”?). Those were a distinct minority but now somewhat cleaner. When things have dried out a bit, they can be returned to their respective places. We also sprayed curtains and the small rug on each side of the bed. Smells good in there, though we have a long way to go.

Books that were given as gifts seldom ever go to the discard pile. Each one has a little story or a bit of karma attached…

…for example, a book of prayers for healing, given to me during my bout with chemotherapy, is a keeper. Sometimes I’ll leave it on my nightstand for a few weeks and it will stay there until I get involved in, say, a freebie Kindle novel.

There are 365 prayers in that book, one for each day of the year. When its turn for cleaning arrived, out of curiosity I opened the book to the prayer for today. Oh right, it is indeed July 4th, despite the rain and unseasonably cool temperatures around here. In my allergy misery, I’d forgotten all my fellow countrymenpersons across the fruited plains, most of them grilling hunks of meat and vegetables, others intent on blowing things up. No, not ISIS, just guys lighting off preparatory fireworks in anticipation of an evening beginning with lightning bugs rising up into the trees: the ascent of those fireflies tell you it’s time to bring out the Catherine Wheels and Chrysanthemums and bottle rockets, amen…

So… Did I dare look at that July 4th petition? Would it spoil my mood (from inhaling the vapors of our homemade miticide no doubt) by turning out to be a p.c. utopian groanfest for world peace or would it stick to the old values? Surprisingly, it turned out to be a palatable admixture of both, with a most fitting end:

For Independence Day

May we as a nation be guided by the Divine to rediscover the sacred flame of our national heritage which so many have given their lives to safeguard;

Let the wounds of separation and division be healed by opening our hearts to listen to the Truth on all sides, allowing us to find a higher truth that includes us all;

May we as a people undergo a transformation that will draw forth individuals to lead our nation who embody courage, compassion, and a higher vision;

May our leaders inspire us and we so inspire one another with our potential as individuals and as a nation that a new spirit of forgiveness, caring, and honesty be born in our nation


May we as a nation re-dedicate ourselves to truly living as one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all;

And may God’s Will be done for the United States as we, the people, align with that Will.

Yeah, I know prayers aren’t for everyone. So for those who prefer other distractions, a list of movies to watch on July 4th.

Despite my good intentions, I’ve never watched Forrest Gump, though I’d like to. But I’m surprised at the number of those films I have seen. Wait: I’ve only read The Great Gatsby, but Fitzgerald’s rich descriptions (despite the underlying frenzied dysphoria) can make you think you’ve seen it. Saving Private Ryan was an endurance of sorts for those of us who prefer the print of war rather than its images…

Again, guys, Happy Independence Day. And that goes double for all the Brexit folk, who I do fervently hope are able to achieve their own independence, joyful in the freedom from no longer having to measure their cucumbers. Those dirty old men in Brussels just never give up, do they?

10 thoughts on “Cleaning Bookshelves on Independence Day

  1. An excellent way to minimize insect infestation of books is to cover shelves with diotomatious (spelling) earth. It is available in most garden stores and must be handled with care – basically it is composed of very tiny sharp edged sea-creatures so when an insect attempts to walk on it they pick it up and then licking their little paws (or whatever) they ingest it. The diotomatious earth serves as a sort of killer in that it has very sharp, glass-like, edges that kill the insect from the inside out. It (the earth) appears like a fine white powder, sort of like flour and can be covered with Tyvek (I cut the edges with scallops and used it as a sort of shelf-liner). It is very effective and a excellent killer of insects-not sure if it works so well on dust-mites but give it a try (and wear gloves).

  2. DIY miticide? Sounds interesting – care to share that recipe? Probably removal is the best remedy, but I hate those little buggers and short of burning the place down… well I’m sure you know what I mean, as a fellow sufferer.

  3. From one allergy sufferer to another: controlling the humidity helps control dust mites too. I got a dehumidifier and keep my home at about 40 percent humidity, and it really helps. I got rid of carpeting, curtains, and (most) upholstered furniture. Get rid of books–never!

    • Ah, Mr. Spahn, a man for all seasons and reasons! You did it again. Who cares if you don’t grok poetry?! You definitely found the right source for DE.

      I remember reading that site years ago… and getting some after reading about it. I use DE liberally, including making my own tooth powder with it (fluoride in toothpaste is bad for my endocrine system. Takes up the places where iodine is supposed to be). In places where it is mined, food grade DE is used to keep grains pest free. It is also used by peasants as a filler to stretch the amount of, say, bread, by adding some to the flour before the yeast. I’ve done that on occasion, just to experiment.

      Horse breeders swear by it, but those fellows are higher on the food chain than we are.

      When we had cats, I always put DE in their soft food to take care of any parasites they picked up outside during their stalking (and eating) rodents. Unfortunately, I now have to rely on mouse traps and they can take a while to capture those critters – meanwhile they’re spreading fleas and ticks and mites.

      The older part of our house has its original wood flooring, with tiny gaps between the boards. Occasionally I ‘fill’ those with DE, which takes care of a bunch of problems.But it takes time to do as its wispy powder.

      Outside I use DE on the straw bales where my vegetables grow. It doesn’t take care of every bug and slug, but it gets a lot of them. Rain ruins the effect so it’s not my only line of attack. [I also use yellow plastic with vaseline to grab the little ones, and the same with a liberal covering of the never-dry spray stickum to get larger species. If anyone knows where to find YELLOW solo cups, those would be best]

      Don’t know how you found that site, Mr. Spahn, but it sure brought back memories reading it. After reading it, I looked every whichwhere for “food grade” DE (not the kind used in pool filters). Finally found it at…Amazon.

      2 Liter Diatomaceous Earth Shaker with Food Grade DE

      Amazon is a parallel with the old Sears & Roebuck of the 20s. From the latter you could order the plans and precut wood to build your own house…Amazon isn’t there…yet.

      If anyone plans to use DE on wooden floors, be very sparing and lay it down carefully. It is a dusty powder. Not toxic to the lungs, but anything in large doses in the lungs isn’t good. Some people use those puffers to get into the edges along the walls, but I don’t like the mess of that…and it’s not good for my vacuum cleaner. Though I suppose a wet vac might be okay with it.

  4. I don’t know, as a fellow dust mite sufferer I really recommend that you at least purge the books and place the ones you really still want in glass cabinets. If the mite infestation is bad enough to be swelling your eyes shut, your breathing will certainly be affected. I used to get a nasty ‘flu’ about 10 times a year until I had allergy tests and found out that I need to keep a super-clean house. Since then I’ve been much healthier.

    I still have books (in the lounge), but was actually glad to sort out the ones I was really unlikely to read again. Is there a community library that would take some of the books so you could still access them? Your health really is more important.

  5. Also extremely useful: keeping all bedding and clothes freshly washed and very dry in sealable plastic bags instead of just drawers and wardrobes. Then after wearing, wash and dry before placing back in them. Don’t place any worn, unwashed items back in drawers and wardrobes. Before I did that, thinking ‘only worn once or twice so still ok’, the mites would start living in drawers and wardrobes and things supposedly ‘clean’ became infected. And even sheet washed months ago but sitting in a supposedly clean cupboard not sealed up would cause my allergy symptoms. Now I keep all bedding in sealed containers/bags and can use a sheet that was washed, dried and thus stored months before.

    Dust mites live off human skin, so anywhere your skin sheds becomes a haven for them and needs thorough cleaning: clothing, furniture, floors, bedding.

    Another useful measure: seal up your mattress and pillows in hypoallergenic covers (ie very tightly zipped), so that none of your dander gets into them and none of their poo (the allergen) gets out.

    • Yes and Yes. No need. And no way.

      I have double covered the pillows with allergenic zipper cases. I wash them once a month in very hot water. Also blankets and coverlets every other week.

      Mattress covered twice. The area under mattress is cleaned out (we have a plain wooden slat platform bed and that can be cleaned, with DE under slats.

      Bedding sealed with lavender oil – they don’t like it. Kept in drawer lined with DE.

      Books are regularly culled and cleaned. Some of them cannot be replaced and no library around here carries conservative books of any sort. In the non-replaceable category are some of the Baron’s books from high school in Yorkshire plus higher maths texts from college. And for me, it took some time to find a reasonably cheap copy of Wilfrid Bion’s book, “Groups”. I also have reference garden books – to be referred to only when Google doesn’t have what I’m looking for. And we both refer with some frequency to various poetry books. Plus Shakespeare. Who could be without Shakespeare?? Or our prayerbooks, Bible, and dictionaries, particularly the ratty, falling-apart etymology reference book?

      Clothing is in a closed closet in another room, usually hanging in plastic or canvas zip bags with various things bugs don’t like. Obviously dry-cleanable clothing cannot be washed as you suggest, but they are sealed away.

      I wish we could afford to have glass-covered book cases installed in those two corners. But that’s out of our price league so cleaning and deterrents will have to do. Right now I’m saving up the funds to have them painted.

      Since this severe attack is of recent onset, I think it is stress and am looking into some supplements to carry me past it. Tommy Robinson and Ed Cline; the latter is resolving, thank heavens.

      • I’d use a curtain over the bookshelves then – even just a sheet. To keep the dust off the books. Best of luck, and re stress: my stress reduced significantly when I identified and dealt with my dust mite allergy.

        • over the years I’ve learned that any auto-immune disorder can be ultimately traced back to an unavoidable emotional stress that one is powerless to resolve.

          The height of dust mite season around here is late September, early October. And that phenomenon produces a quite different allergic response to the one I’m currently experiencing. This one is Tommy+Ed=limbic distress. On Thursday by coincidence, I see my psychiatrist for our quarterly (pro-bono, out of the goodness of his heart) 15-minute-touch-base appointment. He was the first one to explain to me that my periods of psychosomatosis were due to developmental PTSD. That was many years ago and now I feel more ‘in charge’ though when I pass a certain point and some organ or other starts playing the blues, I’ve learned to search through my own personal “current events” to find the likely trigger.

          So while I continue to clean out what was already clean and hadn’t bothered me for more than two years, I’m going to ask his advice re a quick regimen of steroids to break this cycle. I’ve had to do that on occasion before but it’s been a long time.

          Back then it was mostly my daughter’s dilemmas. This time it took ISIS for Ed Cline and the thuggish Brit police for Tommy to reduce me to this…lots of times I stay away from GoV if I think a story might trigger me. The Baron is good about giving me a head’s up. I envy those Indian mystic adepts who can control their autonomic nervous system. This here particular Irish woman ain’t anywhere near that…but at least I know now how to search for root causes.

          I’m also very glad that the CDC and Kaiser have gotten together to attend to the childhood origins of adult diseases, particularly heart disease and adult-onset diabetes.

          That quick quiz will get better with time. It has improved in the short time since they developed it.

          The thing they’re doing, which is relatively new, is figuring out how resilience ameliorates some experiences and how it happens. I’d love to see Dr. Ben Carson talk about that aspect of his childhood. His life story is fascinating.

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